“The thing you have to understand is the extent to which politics has come to dominate social life here,” says my lunch companion. “This isn’t a night-life city anymore. You’re expected to attend breakfast meetings. You’re not up late partying. And politics fills that role. You go to fundraisers and dinners. It has become central to how you live here now.” Constant politics means the constant use of politics for status-seeking, showing oneself to be the most sensitive, insightful, confrontational, etc. Everyone appreciates how well Meryl Streep’s political grandstanding at the Golden Globes went over. Harvey Weinstein took out a cynical ad in his Oscar campaign for Lion lamenting that, if Donald Trump has his way, child actors such as Sunny Pawar, star of that film, might not be able to get visas, because obviously what this is all about is the plight of child actors.
The ladies next to us ask for tea.
Hollywood’s more-clean-and-sober lifestyle has been driven in part by economics. This isn’t a town for people trying to make it — it’s a town for people who have it made. The days of a young dreamer from Iowa getting on a bus and waiting tables while spending a few years going to auditions and waiting for The Break are as dead as Warren Beatty’s chances of ever being asked to present another Academy Award. You can’t afford to do that here now — hell, there are a fair number of working professionals in the entertainment business who can’t really afford to live the Westside life, either. Increasingly, people enter the movie business the way they enter the book-publishing business or journalism: with help from Mom and Dad. “A lot of the people now come from money,” says my host, “and now you’ve got this new thing of people having parents in the business. You’ve always had a Carrie Fisher or two, but now you see a lot of the children of studio executives entering the business.”
Going into the family business. Selective clubs. A social calendar dominated by charity fund-raisers and benefits for cultural organizations. Tea with the ladies. You can blame Hollywood’s loopy liberal politics partly on its newly conservative lifestyle.